i seem to be continuing my DS gameplaying jag, most recently the much-lauded square-enix action RPG the world ends with you. nintendolife has a good review, and although i wouldn’t heap quite as much praise as most reviewers have, i did enjoy it. the story, characterization, music, and graphics are all above average, although the game is quite linear. the touch screen-based battles, where, as with all RPGs, you’ll be spending the vast majority of your time, are complex and in general pretty fun, although i think many people would agree that having to divide your attention between two screens even after hours of play never ends up feeling very natural or “fair”, given that the character you’re not directly focused on inevitably gets mercilessly beat up. the enemy designs are quite repetitive, but the palette-swapped enemies do have slight physical differences and distinctive attacks that are generally worthwhile. boss battles are fun, although they tend to be significantly harder than regular battles. as with most RPGs there’s a ton of equipment (in the form of clothes) you can get but only a fraction of which is necessary. it would’ve been more entertaining if the clothes you wore actually affected your appearance, which would give the game a more sims-like motivation for collecting them all. similarly, most of the battles could be tackled with the same pins (i.e. moves), but there are a huge number of moves to try out and experiment with that give the game a nice amount of longevity, even given the fact that many of the distinct pins provide moves that are pretty much identical to other pins. there are also a large number of post-game, obsession-inducing tasks, including battling each enemy at multiple difficulty levels to fill your enemy bestiary, and replaying the whole game to fulfill new tasks, such as tracking down certain new items. there’s also a prominent (mostly too prominent) marbles-esque mini-game that you can spend time mastering if you choose.
despite the novel gameplay, the game was slow to interest me, actually, and it wasn’t until i had reached the end of the first third (i.e. the first “chapter”, which is the first seven days of the game’s story) that i got really hooked. this was mostly because at that point i had started experimenting more with lowering the character’s level (i.e. making the game harder), which provides some significant in-game bonuses. the end of the first chapter was also pretty fun, and after that you’re able to set battles to an even harder difficulty, which made the game much more interesting since it made the battles much more challenging. being able to set your own difficulty and constantly adjust it was new to me (i’m curious if any other games have a similar mechanic) and prevents one of the classic problems of RPGs which is having characters that are too over- or underlevelled. i can see how relying on players to set their own difficulty could be a bit of a gamble, but the game’s bestiary keeps track of the highest level of difficulty you’ve beaten an enemy at, and once you’ve completed the main mode you can always go back and tackle the same enemy on a higher difficulty. it also gives you more opportunity to experiment with new underlevelled pins instead of relying on the same set of already levelled-up pins.
in the end despite not being converted to a complete zealot of the game, i definitely did enjoy it and would definitely get a sequel if it came out. i really hope it does, though, because there’s some definite room for improvement, such as better use of the in-game “meme” mechanic and more motivation to buy different clothes brands. it would also be great to see a new iteration of the battle mechanics: although they worked great in general, some of the touch gestures seemed to be easily confusable with others. anyway, here’s hoping!
ending with some TWEWY links:
– official site
– official deviantart account, which includes concept art
– great wiki on the game including a list of pins and how to evolve them and differences in the japanese and US versions of the game,
– PDF of the manual at replacementdocs.com
– wallpapers at total-manga.com
– developers’ discussion at the official site
– gamespite has a pretty good article analyzing the themes of the game
– entry at wikipedia